The Kirk’s dik-dik, madoqua kirkii, is a small species of antelope (related to species like the topi and the Grant’s gazelle). They stand 14 to 18 inches (35 to 45 centimeters) at the shoulders and measure 23.6 to 30.4 inches (59 to 76 centimeters) in length. They only weigh somewhere between 6 to 15 pounds (2.7 to 7 kilograms). Their fur is mostly a grey-brown to reddish brown color with the head and legs being tawnier. Males have horns that are ringed and stout at the base. They have a flexible snout (also known as a proboscis) which they use to help regulate their body temperature. Their nose is lined with blood vessels that act as a heat exchanger. Blood that has been cooled will pass directly to the brain in order to prevent it from heating up.
The Kirk’s dik-dik can be found in isolated populations in both southwest and eastern Africa. They will inhabit arid bush country as they require heavy shrubbery to both hide in and feed on. They live in family groups that consist of a male, female and their offspring. While all family members mark the territory (with dung, urine, and secretions from their facial glands), only the male will actually chase out intruders (including other females). They are active both during the day, and at night. As long as conditions remain favorable, the male and female will remain in the same territory for life.
The diet of a Kirk’s dik-dik consists of leaves, grasses, herbs, sedges, shrubs, buds, shoots and fruits. They do not need to drink that much water in order to survive, but do need quite a bit of salt. The main predators of a Kirk’s dik-dik consist of leopards, cheetahs, jackals, eagles, baboons and pythons. When a threat is detected, the male will warn his family by whistling. Depending on the type of whistle, the female and young ones may either hide or join together with the male in order try and scare the predator away by outnumbering it.
A Kirk’s dik-dik will breed 2 times a year. A male will court a female by running up behind her with his neck stretched out while his muzzle is pointing out in front. A breeding pair will remain together for life. Females will give birth to a single offspring after a gestation period of 5 to 6 months. The little ones will nurse for about 3 to 4 months and remain concealed for a time. They will reach adult size and be forced to leave their parent’s territory at about 7 months of age. The mother will chase away the daughter while the father is in charge of kicking out the son. If the young ones can survive long enough, they can live to be up to 10 years old.
The Kirk’s dik-dik is not classified as an endangered species. In fact, their small size is ideal due to the secondary growth that appears in slash-and-burn cultivation. They have both a place to hide as well as a food source. Hopefully, the Kirk’s dik-dik can continue to live peacefully along people and avoid ever having to face the threat of extinction. After all, such a unique antelope species deserves to live and prosper for many years.
“Madoqua Kirkii” 27 June 2011
“Madoqua Kirkii” 27 June 2011
“Kirk’s Dik-Dik” 27 June 2011